Our News, Your News
In prose, we've got Can Xue's I Live in the Slums, translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping, and Sanmao's Stories of the Sahara, translated by Mike Fu.
In poetry, Yi Lei's My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree, translated by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi, and The Selected Poems of Tu Fu, translated by David Hinton.
Best of luck to all!
The publication of Hard Like Water marked a milestone in literature about the Cultural Revolution. It constituted an original iteration of “scar literature,” a genre popular in the calamity’s wake in which, through the melodramatic recounting of trauma, victim and — frequently — victimizer alike find redemption, their roles blurred. Scar literature’s question of moral responsibility persists in Yan’s novel.
By Eric Abrahamsen, August 23, '21
Here at the Ides of August (well, close enough), we bring you portentous news: there's been a changing of the guard at Paper Republic! Our esteemed colleague Yvette Zhu is stepping down from management team duties, owing to the time pressures of her actual job, that pays her an actual salary. She's has served admirably during this time. In fact her greatest contributions have yet to see the light of day – but more about that soon! We are sorry to see her go, and secretly hope she'll be back soon.
In the meantime, this sad news is balanced out by the addition of three new members to Paper Republic's management team: please welcome Jennifer Wong, Megan Copeland, and Danny Parrot to the dugout! Each has their own quite distinct background, and brings their own strengths to the team. We really look forward to expanding our roster of projects with their help.
What's happening, otherwise? It's Women in Translation month, that's what! Worlds Without Borders has a list of 11 translated books by Asian women writers, and you can also check out US PEN, Lithub, the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses and many other locales for relevant reading lists. We also note that there's currently no way to search the Paper Republic database for works by female writers, translated by female translators, and we resolve to add that capability.
By Nicky Harman, August 6, '21
"...The novel simultaneously challenges the crystal cage of marriage and the family, and the coercive nature of the state, picking apart the idea of ‘love of family and country’ and revealing its absurdity. It makes a forceful appeal for justice for the casualties of family and national strife."
Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing has a new section dedicated to reviews translated from Chinese. First up, an insightful and thoughtful review of Xu Xiaobin’s Crystal Wedding (Balestier, 2016), by Hu Xingzhou 胡行舟, translated by Megan Copeland and Nicky Harman. Read it here.
By Jack Hargreaves, August 1, '21
Hello again! You must have been champing at the bit to receive this next issue of our newsletter. Well you need wait no longer. It's been a busy time for the PR management team, what with the delights that were the Aberdeen Festival of Chinese Translation and Bristol Translates as well as our working toward some big announcements we can make soon. Watch this space. Then there's the small matters of the welcome distraction, the Olympics, followed eagerly by Nicky and Emily, upcoming camping trips for Jack and Eric, and big work projects and exams for Yvette and Lirong.
Anyway, first for a little housekeeping. Remember back to May 2020? (I don't know about you, but I can't tell if it feels like yesterday or ten years ago with the past year and a bit the world has had.) So whether you do remember or not, a reminder: Paper Republic collaborated with Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing to run Give-it-a-go, bringing together 124 translators plus ourselves to have a go at translating Deng Anqing's "Forty Days: Growing Closer to My Parents during Quarantine" (read the joint translation here). Since then, this piece and others from the Epidemic Series have been translated into Spanish, here, here, here and here, plus, I believe, into Slovenian, somewhere. The new good news is that, more recently, Deng's account of lockdown at home is now available in Danish, in DanmarkKina magazine #115. It feels good for PR to have played a role in giving these stories a broader, more international readership.
Second on the agenda is a redaction. The previous newsletter claimed that author Yan Ge was performing the superhuman feat of abandoning her native Chinese language to write fiction in English. We've since been gently corrected: she's performed the ultra-human feat of DOING BOTH: while her debut English-language collection and novel are in the pipeline, she's working on her next Chinese novel. It's the Dublin water.
And lastly, word has come over the transom of a new short-story collection by sci-fi writer Wang Weilian (王威廉), entitled Wild Future (野未来). The Chinese-language publisher has been in touch about an English translation of the 11 stories in the collection -- stay tuned.
We have a packed edition this time around, it being the accumulation of over a month of news, stories, poems and reviews. The conclusion from it all is: watch for your TBR list and bookshelves in the next year filling up with anything and everything Jeremy Tiang translates and recommends...
You can enter an English translation of any poem out of any language for the Stephen Spender Prize. Here are some suggestions for Chinese entries.
The Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation, in association with The Guardian, is now open for entries. Anybody in the UK and Ireland can enter, regardless of age or linguistic skill. SST’s Multilingual Creativity hub is full of virtual resources to make the prize accessible from home, as well as teaching packs to bring poetry translation into the classroom.
This year the prize is more inclusive and vibrant than ever, from British Sign Language translation to new prizes for first-time entrants. SST’s virtual poetry booklets collect together poems in more than 15 languages.
This year’s judges are acclaimed poets, translators and educators Khairani Barokka, Daljit Nagra and Samantha Schnee.
Closing date: 16 July 2021.
Categories: Open (adult), 18-and-under, 16-and-under, 14-and-under
Top prize of £1,000
All winning entries published in a booklet
Special 'Spotlight' prize for translation from Urdu, judged by Sascha Aurora Akhtar.
In China the result was a true literary sensation. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies, won many of China’s top literary prizes, spurred imitations and caused a national discussion about the costs of modernization. Liang’s book reflected what she calls a national sense of “psychological homelessness” — a feeling that change has overwhelmed institutions that for millenniums had been the bedrock of Chinese society, especially the family and the village.
China in One Village fuses modes of first-person narration. Despite its sociological bent, the book is structured around the author’s personal experience of a homecoming: her return to Liang village after many years studying and working in Beijing. The contrast is acute: when she arrives at the railway station with her young son, he points to the muddy, rubbish-covered platform – and declares he does not want to get off.
By Jack Hargreaves, June 22, '21
Here's your fortnightly round-up of recent news regarding Chinese literature, the people who write it, the people who translate it, and the people who read it.
What's going on these days? Yan Ge has switched to writing in English, that's what. And how: her debut English-language story collection and novel have already sold, to Faber and Scribner. While this is obviously objectively awesome news, there is something a tiny bit bittersweet about it for those of us who translate. Nothing has been lost, we tell ourselves. Nothing lost! We have not asked Jeremy Tiang for a quote, but imagine him gazing fondly yet a little forlornly at a copy of Strange Beasts of China (which is hot in Philly).
If you're tired of books (as if), why not watch some book-related movies next month? The Chinese Visual Festival has a great line-up of Chinese-language film, including a screening of Jia Zhangke's Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, a documentary about three Chinese authors (Yu Hua, Jia Pingwa, and Liang Hong) and their connection to the land. Note that the related event with Jia Pingwa and Liang Hong has been cancelled, as well as a few of the film screenings, as well as... Well, more about that in the next newsletter.
Other news from the Republic: we're scrambling to keep up with a multitude of educational projects, running workshops and talks in partnership with Aberdeen University, judging submissions for the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators, and gearing up for the Bristol Translates summer school. Meanwhile Nicky hates Microsoft Teams, Jack has mastered the art of Twitter-fishing, and Eric, despite decades of working between continents, still can't keep his timezones straight.
And here's something that doesn't happen often enough: we're hearing a lot of buzz from inside China about a new Chinese-language novel. It's titled Folk Music 《民谣》, by a literary critic named Wang Yao (王尧). It came out in Harvest (收获) magazine in 2020 – still for our money the best literary magazine in China – and was published in book form this past April by Yilin Publishing House. Both the magazine and the publishing house have gotten in touch with us to tell us how much they loved the book, and how much they think someone should translate it. It seems to be a work of autofiction, set in northern Jiangsu province during the 1970s, a finely-experienced story of the narrator and his family. We'll let you know what we think!
Remember, if you want to receive these newsletters straight into your inbox every fortnight, sign up here.
And, finally, the actual news:
Nicky Harman and Helen Wang talk at Gwyl Haf literary festival.
The festival has happened but the interview is now online and can be viewed on Youtube.
By Jack Hargreaves, June 6, '21
I'm going to start off with the reminder this week: you can subscribe here to receive this newsletter straight into your inbox every fortnight! And if you are already signed up, please check your junk/spam/trash folder on Tuesday evening in case the email hasn't arrived yet.
Now for the news: first of all I'd like to point you to all the poetry that has been dug up from the archives or newly published online in commemoration of a certain anniversary this month. Powerful stuff - a lame analysis I know, but the poems speak for themselves. Next, it's Pride month, and there's lots that is related going on within Chinese-language lit for us to be happy about. One thing is the continued and welcomed publication of reviews and extracts from The Membranes, and another is the release of a new book from one of my favourite authors, Chen Xue 陳雪, Dear Accomplice (親愛的共犯), a detective novel published by Mirror Fiction, though no translation available as yet of course! AND -- this just released as I was about to post -- Words Without Borders' 12th annual queer issue contains two translations from Chinese! And for the rest, well, have a see for yourself below:
With China’s rural population steadily and swiftly declining, is the urbanization of Chinese culture separating people from nature, even those who live in rural villages?
If you visit your old village after a year away, you may find that the old roads have vanished, and the newer broader avenues have changed the village’s geographical setting. If it has been several years, you may discover that the river or the mountain behind the village is gone. You may find that the village itself has disappeared, or is on the verge of ruin.
Please join us for a book chat on China in One Village: The Story of One Town and the Changing World (English translation coming out with Verso books on June 22). Originally published in 2010, this book kickstarted a phenomenal wave of literary nonfiction writing in China, and established Liang Hong’s reputation as a deft chronicler of China’s changing society. This conversation brings together the writer, the translator, and Chinese cultural studies scholars to discuss the response-ability of literature and translation to drastic social changes.
By Jack Hargreaves, May 25, '21
A less busy edition this time around but the two stories, one from Hai Fan (tr. Jeremy Tiang), the other from Leung Lee-chi (tr. Jennifer Feeley), as well as the stacks of reviews, all for your reading pleasure, more than make up for it.
And finally, the chance you've all been waiting for has arrived! If you want to receive these newsletters straight into your inbox every fortnight, sign up here!
Please bear with us while we refine the new version and add extra content, but we'll continue to post here anyway.
Enjoy your weeks!
By Jack Hargreaves, May 12, '21
Sorry for the delay this time around. Fortunately, it's not stopped this from being a jam-packed edition, and one full of excitement too: winner announcements, new books, upcoming big events and recordings of those you might have missed. PLUS, in the next newsletter there'll be an option to subscribe to receive future editions via email. It's something we've been thinking about a while, and something a number of you have requested we do already. It will mean additional content in the future as we develop the newsletter further. So look out for that!
Have a lovely two weeks!
Paper Republic is delighted to announce that we will be partnering with the Confucius Institute of the University of Aberdeen to host a programme of online lectures and workshops over four weeks, 7th of June to 3rd of July, focusing on Chinese translation into English. Events are aimed at professional and aspiring translators, and cover a wide range of topics. Please follow the link for details of the programme, where you will find further event and booking information.
Over nearly a decade as a translator, editor, and enthusiast of Sinophone fiction I’ve naturally developed certain expectations for how Chinese books feel when rendered in English. Sadly, not all of those expectations are positive. This impression was recently highlighted to me as I read two translations from European languages, one a French work of non-fiction, the other a German novel. Both displayed a facility and clarity of English style that I rarely, if ever, encounter in books translated from Chinese. Why is this?
Join us for virtual discussions with three award-winning Chinese literature translators: Emily Jones, Jack Hargreaves, and Nicky Harman!
By Lirong Yao, May 5, '21
Who We Are
Here at Paper Republic, our mission is to promote Chinese literature in English translation, focussing on new writing from contemporary Chinese writers, and in 2019, we registered as a charity in the UK, registration number 1182259. After a year of hard work, Paper Republic is now making plans for 2021 and beyond.
Opportunities for You
New year, new ambitions. After much exploration and discussion among ourselves last year, we're growing and evolving. We have many exciting new ideas and hope to find more people with expertise in some specific areas to help us realize them. We need more people to join our non-profit management team! Note: at this stage the whole team works as unpaid volunteers, although for specific substantial tasks, we may be able to pay a modest fee.
We are currently recruiting one or two more team members, with one or more of the following areas of expertise.
- Marketing, Communications, and Social Media
Do you know about (or are you willing to learn about) creating posts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and our website? Have you got experience with social media campaigns? Are you familiar with advertising? And do you know worldwide literary platforms, bookstores, and other institutions which Paper Republic might partner with? Our marketing and social media profile is key to getting more people reading more Chinese literature in translation.
From brand image, event banners, ebook designs and even website UI design, all require a good Graphic Designer. If you have experience in this area and are interested in helping us, please submit a portfolio along with your application.
After our first Zoominar with Julia Lovell, we are hoping to generate more video/podcast content. In addition to that, we are also hoping you can help us with publicity materials. If you have video/podcast production experience, please submit a portfolio along with your application.
We're looking for web developers to help maintain and expand the Paper
Republic website: bug fixes, new features, even a test suite might be
nice! We could use help both on the front-end, doing page design or some
JS functionality, and the back-end -- Paper Republic is written in
Once in a while, we need editors to write author bios, book descriptions, blurbs for different projects, and even reviews for the site. If you are interested in content curation and have a strong writing/editing skills, please submit a portfolio along with your application.
If you have experience as a fundraiser, we’d be happy to talk to you.
How We Work
Are you willing to volunteer your services (3 to 8 hours a week) for us? Our management team consists of six volunteers. You would be the seventh or eighth member of our team. The management work is mostly unpaid, although we always aim to pay translators and editors.
Are you interested in managing a project? Apart from maintenance of the website, Paper Republic is a project-based organization. Everyone on the management team is responsible for taking the lead on a project at some point.
We’d also hope you are comfortable with technology. As we exist mostly online, and are located around the world, most of what we do is done through internet communications. It doesn’t matter where you live, so long as your time zone means you can join our Slack meetings.
Our management meetings take place via Slack. These can be at ungodly hours (our other team members are scattered in China, the west coast of America and the UK). Meetings are every two to three weeks for about an hour. Other business gets discussed by email.
All team members are expected to share in the basic administration. Everyone does a bit of website data entry, as well!
Why Join Us
You’ll be giving something back, to Chinese literature and the wider Chinese translation community.
You’ll be working on a website that has an international reputation (the London Book Fair judges in 2016 called us the go-to place for Chinese translations and translators).
For more than ten years, Paper Republic has shaped people’s views of Chinese literature in translation all over the word.
You’ll be joining a community of translators, and you’ll learn professional skills (and we hope we’ll learn from you).
How to Apply
Please send a CV explaining why you’d like to join our team, with "APPLICATION:" and the position(s) you’re applying for in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org before 1st of June. And the interviews for potential applicants will be conducted in late July as we will be busy with a series of exciting events earlier that month. Please note that we expect a minimum commitment of 6 months.
If you'd rather spend 1 to 2 hours a week to help us, you are also welcomed to email us via email@example.com together with your CV. We will send you a volunteer info-sheet and see how you can help.
Here at Paper Republic, we are committed to diversity and inclusion and welcome applications from everyone. We particularly encourage applications from people from Chinese/Chinese heritage backgrounds who are currently unrepresented in the translation community. If you’re interested, please send in your application. Looking forward to hearing from you!
In this seminar, Dr David N.G. Hull will focus on the techniques of translating the satire of Zhang Tianyi’s novel 'The Pidgin Warrior'.
Zhang Tianyi’s (张天翼 1906-1985) 1936 novel, The Pidgin Warrior(洋泾浜奇侠) presents all manner of problems and opportunities in translation. Among the linguistic hurdles are accents, wordplay, geographic references, censorship and martial arts jargon. But the satire of Zhang Tianyi is anchored in an examination of China’s relationship to nationalism and a newly-critical globalism is the critical period at the beginning of the Japanese invasion. How can a translation remain faithful to the original while providing an English-language reader sufficient context to appreciate the work?
By Jack Hargreaves, April 25, '21
I mean, the title this week says it all - we've a busy fortnight ahead in Chinese lit related excitement, and I'm running out of title ideas (that started to happen a few newsletters ago to be honest, but my imagination continues to fail me - I blame lockdown...). Beyond that, there are new books (coming) out from Sinoist, Astra House, HarperVia and Columbia University Press, as well as the lit translation model contract from the Authors Guild! A life-changer as far as I'm concerned!
Jeremy Tiang discusses the process of translating the late Yeng Pway Ngon's Unrest, and what it means to be a Singaporean Chinese translator working within his own community and culture. What happens to the metaphor of translation as a 'bridge' when both ends of the bridge are located in the same place? Can the translator truly be neutral, or should we pay more attention to who is doing the translating?
Two panels on Chinese science fiction explored from multiple outlooks, from the fiction itself, through the translation and the fans, and all the way to the industry. The show is co-hosted by Regina Kanyu Wang and Yen Ooi, with panelists: Chen Qiufan, Feng Zhang, Emily Xueni Jin, Christine Ni, Angus Stewart, and Guangzhao Lyu.
This Saturday, April 24, at 3 PM US Eastern time.
Photo by Sigit hidayat from Pexels.
By Jack Hargreaves, April 11, '21
First port of call this instalment is the Translators Association's acknowledgement that racial inequality is systemically embedded within the literary translation industry. It is a rallying cry for everyone at every level, in every role, to make change.
Then there are two very exciting sci-fi events that you should be signing up for (and I would be too if they weren't in the States), plus writing from Malaysian author Ho Fok Song and Tibetan writer Tsering Norbu, translated by Natascha Bruce and Riga Shakya, respectively.
Followed by the now-to-be-expected mainstay: more reviews for Strange Beasts of China and The Membranes. Plus the announcement of two new books coming soon. See below to find out which!
See you in two weeks! 88